Unfortunately, one of the best kept secrets about the workings of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is the Advisory Council. Of all the bureaucratic processes in Augusta that make decisions and choices that affect the lives of all of us, whether sportsmen or simply Maine citizens, the IF&W Advisory Council stands out.
By design, the council is simple in its concept, equitable in its application and relatively effective. How does it work?
The council comprises 10 sportsmen and sportswomen members from 16 Maine counties. Each member serves a three-year term. Members are appointed by the governor and approved by the state legislature. In practice, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) generally makes suggestions to the Governor’s Office as to who might make an appropriate member of the council from any given county.
Androscoggin, Kennebec and Sagadahoc counties are represented by one member. Franklin and Oxford counties are also represented by one member, as are Knox, Lincoln and Waldo, as well as are Piscataquis and Somerset counties.
The council serves an advise and consent role for the IF&W commissioner on rule changes and other important IF&W business. This allows for grassroots input to the commissioner in her decision making; it also is a conduit through which any rank and file sportsman can express views or opinions on prospective rule changes that affect hunting or fishing.
Sportsmen interested in having a voice in hunting and fishing rule changes need to establish a connection with their respective council members. It is the best way to be heard!
If you would like to express your concerns to an Advisory Council member, here are their names and telephone numbers: Kennebec County, Jerry Scribner, 495-7751; Aroostook, Al Cowperthwaite, 227-2851; Cumberland, Matthew Thurston, 926-4147; Franklin and Oxford, Shelby Rousseau, 446-4638; Hancock, Lindsay Ware, 812-1366; Knox and Waldo, Kristin Peet, 991-1470; Penobscot, Robert Duchesne, 827-3782; Piscataquis, vacant; Washington County, Brian Smith, 255-1000; York, Shawn Sage, 329-7096.
Of concern to me is the fact that as of press time, Piscataquis County, which is arguably one of the most popular and outdoor-centered counties in Maine, is without representation on the council. If you have somebody in mind for this important post, contact Maine’s Fish and Wildlife commissioner, Judy Camuso.
Piscataquis County has been without a voice in Augusta at the regular meetings of the Advisory Council for far too long!
By the way, if you would like to listen in or participate in these regular meeting of the council, virtually, contact Becky Orff at IF&W. Her email address is [email protected]